Like a lot of Americans right now, I’m enthralled with the latest developments of Hurricane Dorian. For me, I’m as interested in how the PR people for emergency management, law enforcement and government communities are going to respond to this one.
There are some general edicts that they will all follow, at least the good ones, and here’s what it will be.
- Assume that the initial reports that they will receive about damage and impact will be at best, incomplete and, worst case, completely wrong. In any sort of crisis situations, communications get compromised or at least gets strained. Emergency management officials will have to balance between getting information out to the public as quickly as they can, but also with the full understanding that the information is developing and that there will be more to follow.
- Reiterate what emergency officials are doing to ensure to the best that they can the public’s safety. Also give instructions to the general public as to what they need to do, their responsibility in terms of staying safe, following the directions of the law enforcement, following the directions of emergency management officials and the reasons why. What compounds any sort of emergency like this is you always get a handful of people who ignore the warnings, who ignore the directions of government officials. In doing so, they will require a disproportionate amount of resources when they get themselves in a situation that they need to be rescued, putting other peoples in harm’s way. That will be a point that they will reiterate time and time again.
- Articulate what will be done to restore things back to, at least as best as possible, the original state. This will include road infrastructure, electricity, water, and other kinds of basic necessities to get people back in their homes, businesses back up and running and things moving again. That’s going to be the responsibility of the emergency management and public relations officials in the government and the law enforcement community.